Another link taking a look at the stats associated with a Rick Peterson pitching staff: Mike Silva of the New York Baseball Digest writes today that the Mets never should have fired Peterson when they ousted Willie Randolph. Coincidentally, the two find themselves reunited in Milwaukee, with Randolph serving as the Brewers' bench coach.
Silva says he's still surprised that Peterson was fired, because the starting pitching was never a part of the Mets' problems. It was the quality of the relievers and Randolph's bullpen management that torpedoed otherwise talented teams, according to Silva, and that's something I agree with. He notes that under Peterson, the Mets were consistently above average when it comes to team ERA, even when working with below-average staffs.
Peterson has shown an ability to get the most out of struggling pitchers -- the woeful 2004 Mets, who finished with 91 losses, wound up with a team ERA of 4.10 despite throwing scrubs like Tyler Yates, Matt Ginter, and Jae Sao. His work with Oliver Perez is the most widely known turnaround, and Perez has regressed since Peterson's departure.
Personally, that's what gives me the most hope when it comes to this year's staff. To me, Manny Parra reminds me a lot of Oliver Perez before he met up with Peterson -- left handed, good stuff, but poor command and lackluster mental make-up. I'm excited to see what Peterson can do with talent like Yovani Gallardo, but the success of this year's rotation will depend on the turnaround of Parra.
Say what you will about ERA -- I think it's far from the best way to measure pitcher success, even when you're talking about the team as a whole -- but even if Peterson can get this year's Brewers pitching like the 2004 Mets that lost over 90 games, it would represent a huge improvement over last year's collection of misfits.
That's the source of my optimism when it comes to this season. If Peterson can orchestrate that kind of turnaround in such a short amount of time, the Brewers should be able to push the Cardinals for a possible division title. After seeing Dave Duncan sprinkle pixie dust on every reject to pass through St. Louis, it's about time we get to see some of that magic work in Milwaukee's favor. If this hiring goes as well as many people think it will, we can thank the Mets for yet another inept management decision while reaping the benefits.